It was a Sunday morning and Jack and I were deep in L/A, touring and trying to score a couple of calzones at the Italian Bakery. We were rambling down Lisbon, admiring downtown and pondering how it might’ve looked in its heyday. Far down the walk were some bright yellow signs that said MUSIC.
“You see those signs?”
“Do not be fooled, that’s the pawn shop. We could check it out. It’s pretty nice – as far as pawn shops go.” We considered it. I liked the idea personally. We were hungry though.
“But where are the calzones?”
“Bartlett Street. That-a-way.” He pointed opposite to the yellow signs.
Our plot for the day was to rustle something covered in cheese and sauce, so we departed for our spot.The road tapered down into a dip, and rose again towards a wooded hill. It felt like the city’s edge. Down in the wane, there stood our destination, white and striped with Italy’s tricolor. We ventured inside.
All around there was pleasant abundance and the smell of dough. Behind lit counters, there were treats of all kinds: they were cut out of sugared walnuts, covered in bright fruit preserves, dipped in chocolate, and battered with that local affection you only find at a family business. Behind the bright counters, there were cannoli horned with drops of chocolate and sheets of tiramisu. At another glass, there were many sorts of morning glories: donuts whipped out of cake batter, crumbled hacks of coffee cake and Berliners piped with sweet cream. Packed into the freezers were chicken pot pies and tubs filled with baked beans.
Finally, and most humbly, were chalkboards swinging from the walls and scribbled with handwriting detailing the regular menu: Italians, pizzas, pot pies, and, ah yes, calzones. We wandered up to the cashier and asked for two calzones. When she asked us what we wanted for toppings, we stumbled.
Something to know about Jack and me: we were alike in the weakness of our public nerves. We stood for a second, confused and nervous. We didn’t know what we wanted. We didn’t have the foresight. Panic! Rupture! Fray! She might’ve understood our anxiety and with worried eyes she pointed to a chalkboard listing our options. The swell mellowed, and then we ordered coherently. I asked for tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. Jack asked for sausage and tomato.
The order came along after some minutes, and in the meantime, we watched the local seniors poke at sweets and chatter between sips of coffee. We left with two cardboard boxes. Inside were our meals, golden and swollen and sized like a bird’s nest.
They were the real deal, and we clinked boxes in celebration. On our return, we rambled past a loose rottweiler who grinned with perhaps cheeriness. We took uneven steps, pausing to bury our heads into our boxes for a second or to negotiate across a hazard, like an iced puddle, a jagged curb, a dead crow, etc.
The integrities of the calzones were slipping, and each bite loosened drips of sauce, bits of stewed tomato and stretched whips of mozzarella. We realized they gave us plastic cutlery sets for a damn good reason. But it was all good. It was a fine day to be alive. We were talking and ticking, enjoying the sun and a most righteous meal between our hands.